Bracket Banter is our daily open thread to discuss all things bracket. Readers can post comments and questions during the night's games, and we will answer those questions as the night goes on.
A day after the two best mid-major teams in the country stole the show, the most famous mid-major of them all headlines an interesting night of games.
Gonzaga certainly isn't used to life on the bubble, but that's exactly where they find themselves after a pair of head-scratching losses last week at Santa Clara and at San Francisco. The Zags have quietly compiled a pretty good OOC resume this season (wins over Xavier, Marquette, Oklahoma State, and Baylor), but if they can't beat St. Mary's in Moraga tonight, they'll fall three games behind the Gaels in the WCC standings. Depending on what some other bubble teams do this week, a loss tonight could knock the Zags out of our next bracket, and it would make their remaining games against Memphis and St. Mary's almost must-wins if they want to keep their at-large hopes alive going forward.
Also out West, Arizona plays host to UCLA with the temporary title of "second best team in the Pac-10" on the line. The game's big for both teams, but it's bigger for Arizona. The Wildcats have a nice RPI (24), but they have a poor OOC resume and their only notable win in conference was against a Washington State team that is barely hanging onto a bid. That's why we have UCLA a seed line better than Arizona in this week's bracket (that BYU win is looking nicer by the minute). If UCLA can win this game and then take care of Arizona State this weekend, they could be as high as a 7 on Monday. The Bruins' next four games are at home after this one, including a big OOC match-up against St. John's next weekend.
In the only other must-watch game of the night, Duke plays host to Boston College. The Blue Devils have bounced back nicely from their loss to Florida State with three straight double-digit wins, while BC is just 4-4 over its last eight games. The Eagles are safely in the field right now, but their tournament chances might ultimately depend on how they fare over the next two weeks. They play three of their next four games at home - UNC, VT, and Maryland - with a game at Clemson in between.
Also keep an eye on: Illinois at Indiana, Michigan at Michigan State, Vanderbilt at Mississippi State, Maryland at Virginia, Utah State at San Jose State, Hofstra at VCU, Kent State at Ball State